Question: What was the greatest obstacle you faced that complicated your efforts to pursue post-secondary education?

Answer: Having small children was definitely the greatest obstacle. With traditional on-campus education, the cost of daycare alone was a major barrier to pursuing a credential. Distance education facilitated the completion of both my degree and diploma by allowing me to study around my children’s schedule.

Q: Why did you decide to explore online learning as opposed to a traditional classroom education?

A: The major deciding factor to pursue my credentials via distance education was the program’s flexibility around my family schedule. Furthermore, the program also allowed me to enter the workforce and learn in parallel with my career growth. Distance education truly enables students to enjoy a healthy balance between work, family and education.

Q: How have innovations in online learning improved your educational experience?

"The Internet has really virtualized the classroom experience and decreased the isolation associated with distance learning."

A: I started with Open Learning at Thompson Rivers University when it was known as the British Columbia Open University. At that point most courses were delivered via postal correspondence. As with most things, course delivery has evolved from an inefficient mail system to an online medium. The transition to online learning greatly enhances real-time interaction with fellow students and instructors. This provides opportunities for collaboration, increased feedback and learning opportunities. The Internet has really virtualized the classroom experience and decreased the isolation associated with distance learning.

Q: What advantages have you experienced from studying at home?

A: First, there are tremendous cost savings, as I did not require childcare. Secondly, there is the potential to maintain income by not having to exit the workforce. Thirdly, there is the self-motivation and discipline you acquire from the less formal structure of distance delivery. I acquired a great deal of time and project management skills from my decade of distance learning. These were not taught in the syllabus, they were learned from the self-directed structure of my program.

Q: Based on your experience, is it possible to find a balance between schooling and prior commitments?

A: Yes, with a caveat. You have to be prepared to be a little less than perfect at everything you do. There is no doubt that you can wear all the hats, so to speak, but they may be on crooked at times. I had to accept that I was not going to obtain the same GPA as a childless full-time student. I had to occasionally miss some of my children’s activities or take a long weekend off work to study. In general, if you are committed and focused on self-improvement through education, the people around you will be very forgiving of these imperfections and extremely supportive.